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Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies

Japan's New Hard Right: Addressing the Rise of the Action Conservative Movement


Prof. Dr. Tom Gill (Meji Gakuin University, Yokohama)

Date and Time

September 28, 2017, 10 -12 am


University of Zurich, KOL G 220 Rämistrasse 71, 8006 Zürich


Japan’s orthodox rightists (uyoku) have been in decline for decades, with police statistics showing 120,000 members in 1965 but just 13,400 in 2010. It was thus all the more shocking when a new kind of right-winger emerged out of internet chat rooms and onto the streets around 2006. Traditional rightists were nationalistic, conservative and anti-Communist; the new rightists were less interested in nationalistic, anti-Communist politics, instead being overtly xenophobic and confrontational. It was their emergence that made ‘hate speech’ a burning political issue. Many terms have been used to describe this new type of right-winger – far right, ultra-right, nativist right, etc., with corresponding terms in Japanese. But I prefer to use the term they most frequently use themselves – ‘action conservative movement’ (kōdō hoshu undō). My lecture will trace the historical background to the emergence of this movement, analyse its characteristic features, and set it in context of trends in migration and multiculturalism in Japan. It is sometimes observed that the ACM seems more like European racist movements than previous Japanese rightist movements, but there has been no mass immigration, no sudden flood of refugees, to ignite their anger. Instead the ACM has turned its racist venom on Japan’s long-standing ethnic minorities, particularly Chinese and even more so, Koreans. I will discuss the reasons why.

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